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Are you supporting someone who has breast cancer?

Drawing of a man brooming inside an head

Are you supporting someone who has breast cancer?

How can you support the person you are caring for through the early stages of breast cancer, the highs and lows, and the remission phase?

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What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer mainly affects women between the ages of 50 and 69. It rarely affects men. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in Canadian women. There are different types of breast cancer.

In Quebec, the focus is on screening by mammography. The Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS) invites Quebec women between the ages of 50 and 69 to take a breast cancer screening mammogram every 2 years. Screening takes place in the Designated Investigation Reference Centres (DIRC) and Designated Screening Centres (DSC). For more information, contact the CCSR in your area.

Changes in breast appearance

Is the person you are caring for mentioning certain changes, pains or sensations? Here is a list of things to look for, developed by the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program:

  • a lump appears in the breast;
  • the breast skin folds inward (retracts), looks like an orange peel, becomes red and/or redness covers at least one third of the breast;
  • fluid suddenly leaks from a nipple, nipple retraction occurs (the nipple appears to be pulled inward from the breast), it changes in appearance or texture (for example, the change may resemble an eczema lesion that does not heal).

If you recognize any of these signs, contact a physician or nurse practitioner immediately.

Questions and possible solutions

How can we spare some of the people around us, especially the children of someone who has breast cancer?

It is possible to involve the child of a person you are caring for, without them actually being a caregiver. For example, we have the actress Anick Lemay, speaking to her 11-year-old daughter in a radio conversation with Guylaine Guay (in French only): “You’re still my daughter. I will protect you. I’m going to work it out with your father. Yes, you see me sick, but not during the most difficult moments. You’ re not going to go through this. We’re going to spare you from that.”

I am in a relationship with the person I am helping and breast cancer is taking over our relationship. What are my options?

One key word: talk about it. Talk about the impact. About hair loss. About weight gain or loss. About the mastectomy. Breasts and their place in your (new) intimate life. The disease that involves revisiting the limits of your body and your relationship. Discomforts in the context of intimacy. With the treatments, fatigue, decreased sexual desire, pain and changes in body image “can affect your sexuality but do not alter your ability to feel sexual pleasure through caresses, for example.”

And me, how am I doing?

There are organizations that provide information about breast cancer to caregivers, such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network, the Quebec Cancer Foundation and the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation’s Support Help Line at 1-855-561-ROSE.

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Need to talk?

Contact our Caregiver Support Helpline for counselling, information and referrals.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free of charge.

call  Caregiver info :  1 855 852-7784
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